I'm struggling trying to complement sentences using させる+くれる/もらう.

In my studies it was said that させる+くれる meant "to let someone do" kind of, so the following sentence:

先生が質問をたくさん聞かせてくれた The teacher let (someone) ask lots of questions.

Now how can I specify who the teacher let to ask the questions?

If I want to say "The teacher let the students ask lots of questions.", how do I say that?

My try: 先生が学生に質問をたくさん聞かせてくれた。

thanks in advance.

  • Talking about a teacher, you might want to say くださる instead of くれる.
    – Angelos
    Feb 6, 2017 at 2:12
  • 2
    I see, but the level of politeness is not exactly the point here, I just chose randomly this sentence that I had in my material. Is more about how to point the other part in the "action" happening in the sentence. That being said, the correct would be "先生が質問をたくさん聞かせてくださった"? Feb 6, 2017 at 2:20

1 Answer 1


Your attempt is grammatically correct. To specify the target of 「させる」, we use the 「に」 particle.

But your sentence can be improved a little more, so let me describe it.

First, 「質問を聞く」 is a little bit unnatural. We say 「質問をする」 far more often. We use 「聞く」 with concrete question phrases, for example: 「どこに居るのか聞く」 (ask where you are).

Then your sentence would be 「先生が学生に質問をたくさんさせてくれた。」

Secondly, this sentence is ambiguous because there are two patterns in which 「学生に」 modifies different verbs; one is "let" and the other is "ask."

The two possible interpretations of the sentence are:

The teacher let the students ask lots of questions.
The teacher let (someone) ask the students lots of questions.

One way to avoid this is:

The teacher gave the students a lot of opportunities to ask questions.

In this case 「学生に」 modifies 「くれた」 but not 「質問」, because we don't say 「学生に質問」 to mean "the questions to the students" but say 「学生への質問」.

  • to avoid the ambiguity of letting someone ask the students or let the students ask, can you just use を twice? 先生が学生を質問をたくさんさせてくれた ? or does that not make sense? Also is this type of ambiguity always present in a XがYにZをさせてくれた type sentence?
    – frei
    Feb 6, 2017 at 4:09
  • @Frei Using 「を」 is still grammatical but 「先生が学生質問をたくさんさせてくれた」 sounds weird because two 「を」's are repeated. Also, using 「を」 instead of 「に」 here sounds more like "have X do" or "make X do" rather than "let X do," and thus it does not match 「させて**くれた**」 which implies the nuance of "let."   This type of ambiguity occurs when the verb Z takes its target with the 「に」 particle. Feb 6, 2017 at 4:40
  • @FailyFreely We appreciate that you went the extra step and addressed that ambiguity in your answer. It did bring up a question in my mind though which I hope you'll address. I understand why the addition of の is necessary to show the target of 質問 but I am not sure why it was also necessary to switch the に with へ. I assume 学生にの質問 is incorrect since it sounds so weird to me but is there an underlying reason for that? Thanks.
    – G-Cam
    Feb 6, 2017 at 5:17
  • @G-Cam Does this link help: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/27363/… Feb 6, 2017 at 9:21
  • 1
    Although 「質問の機会」disambiguates and is elegant and short, it also requires some inspiration to think of it. In my subjective opinion, as a general plug-in technique for a non-native speaker, further describing the object might be more reliable. In this case, further describe Z in the sentence form [XがYにZをさせてくれた] --- (先生が)(学生に)((学生から先生に)質問をさせてくれた)) or preferably (先生が)(学生に)((学生から先生への質問)をさせてくれた)) Feb 6, 2017 at 22:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .